Tag Archives: King creole

King Creole #1 — That’s The Way It Isn’t

Elvis Movie Madness Championship Brackets

Okay, the fans have spoken.  52,000 votes were cast in the Elvis Movie Madness championship, and Elvis: That’s The Way It Is edged out King Creole by EIGHT VOTES.

Early TTWII Poster

My prediction last week was a bust, but congratulations to TTWII for the victory.

However, as I have said here before, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is a documentary/concert film, not a movie with acting, comedy, and plot.  The voting results showed the fans consider these the seven best Elvis acting movies.

#1 –            King Creole

#2 (tie) –   Jailhouse Rock

                  Viva Las Vegas

#4 (tie) –    Loving You

                  Blue Hawaii

                  GI Blues

                  Girl Happy


After the results were announced, I realized I didn’t have enough appreciation tor TTWII.  I’ve seen it several times, but it’s not a film I can watch over and over like some of my favorite Elvis acting movies like Tickle Me, Live A Little, Love A Little, Follow That Dream, or Kissin’ Cousins (in addition to that Top 7 above).

So, I did a little research to find out what makes Elvis: That’s The Way It Is so popular.

 Possibly the Greatest Elvis Film Ever Made


Well, how about the fact that the extensively remastered original 1970 film debuted in Blu-ray and had its world premiere theatrical showing at Elvis Week 2014 at the Orpheum Theater last August 16.

 TTWII Special Elvis Week Screening


Do you think those fans who saw the film on the special day commemorating his death might still have a warm fuzzy feeling for it eight months later?  Sure, but there couldn’t have been that many folks who squeezed into the Orpheum for a single 8pm show.

Well, how about all the folks who saw it at the 300 theaters across the country that also featured limited engagements after Elvis Week?

 TTWII Exclusive Engagement

Now you’re talking about a lot of serious fans that saw TTWII last August – the kind of fans that probably follow Graceland.com and voted in Elvis Movie Madness.

For those of you who don’t know what the reediting and remixing of TTWII is all about, here is a little history.  The original movie was 108 minutes long.  It consisted mainly of concert footage from Elvis’ triumphant 1970 shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Elvis Headlining at International Hotel

It also contained the informal and easy-going practice sessions at MGM Music Sound Stage in Culver City, CA.

Elvis Wearing Shades During TTWII Rehersals

Unfortunately, it also wasted a lot of film time on fan interviews and other superficial stuff.

Then in 2000, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is received some drastic editing.  The fan sequences were eliminated, and the rehearsal and concert sequences were expanded using recently discovered footage.  The resulting film was twelve minutes shorter than the original, but focused entirely on Elvis as a musician, performer and beloved icon.

 TTWII-Special edition

The newly “reconstructed” film was issued on DVD, and it also had a second run in the movie theaters that year.

Then, in 2014, Warner Home Video released what they call a DigiBook two-disc edition — the original 1970 version on DVD, and the 2000 updated version on Blu-ray.  Tied in with this release, EPE scheduled the Elvis Week showing at the Orpheum Theater.

When 300 theaters across the country also showed the film
around the same time, TTWII became the only Elvis film to claim three theatrical runs (1970, 2000, and 2014).

 That's the Way It Is

If all that attention in August 2014 wasn’t enough to sway the vote, TTWII had one more big promotional push with the March 2015 opening of a new Graceland exhibition about the movie.

Graceland Exibitions

You have to admit that TTWII had a lot of stuff pumping it up the Elvis Movie Madness vote, but it is truly a great film.  If you want to find out why, check out any of the 288 Five-Star reviews on Amazon.com.  You’ll probably end up buying the Blu-ray.


I couldn’t do this article and resist the temptation to look up how many Five-Star reviews King Creole got on Amazon.com. 

 Elvis and Carolyn Jones in King Creole

There were just 112.  I guess the fans voting on Elvis Movie Madness got it right.



©  2015    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis Movie Madness — Handicapping the Final Four

Elvis Movie Final Four

You can see the survivors of Round 3 voting above.

King Creole knocked off Loving You 71% to 29%.

Viva Las Vegas topped GI Blues 67% to 33%.

Jailhouse Rock slammed Girl Happy 73% to 37%.

ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is got by Blue Hawaii 55% to 45%.


I would like to make my predictions right now. The Final Four losers will be Viva Las Vegas and ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is, meaning they tie for honor of third best Elvis movie. King Creole and Jailhouse Rock battle it out in the finals with King Creole coming out on top.

King Creole Poster 3

In list form, the Top 4 Elvis movies will look like this:

#1 – King Creole

#2 – Jailhouse Rock

#3 (tie) – Viva Las Vegas, and ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is

That’s my prediction. I made it primarily on my gut feelings, then decided to do some research on the three websites used for the Worst Elvis Movies post two weeks ago. There was much agreement on the worst, but their rankings for the best four Elvis movies were more disparate. That wasn’t enough to bolster my picks, so, I added one more source and the pattern became very evident. Here’s what they showed.

IMBd Elvis Movie Rankings




#1 – Follow That Dream
#2 – Loving You
#3 – Flaming Star
#4 – Blue Hawaii

Follow That Dream - Lobby Card

These folks seem to be taking a contrarian point of view, but all of their picks showed strength in the Elvis Movie Madness voting. Loving You and Blue Hawaii made the Elite Eight, and Follow That Dream had 47% of the vote against Loving You in the first round. It’s a shame they had to be paired up so early. The same could be said about Flaming Star that had the misfortune to go against Love Me Tender in the first round, but still got 43% of the vote
For what it’s worth, here’s where my favorites ranked on IMDb: Jailhouse Rock – 6, King Creole – 7, and Viva Las Vegas – 18. IMDb included only Elvis acting movies in their ranking.


Ranker Elvis Movie Rankings






#1 – Viva Las Vegas
#2 – King Creole
#3 – Jailhouse Rock
#4 – Blue Hawaii
#5 – ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is

Viva Las Vegas Lobby Card

Not bad. Ranker got all of the Final Four in that list.


USA Today Elvis Movie Rankings






#1 – King Creole
#2 – Jailhouse Rock
#3 – Loving You
#4 – Flaming Star

King Creole  Poster 2

Another good list. Viva was #6. No concert films included on the USA Today list.


King Creole and Jailhouse Rock showed a lot of strength in the listings above. However, when I added one more respected ranking source, things became perfectly clear.

MovieFone Elvis Movie Rankings




#1 – King Creole
#2 – Jailhouse Rock
#3 – ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is
#4 – Elvis On Tour.

MovieFone placed Viva Las Vegas at #7

So, based on these four listings, I feel confident in my Elvis Movie Madness picks. King Creole will be named Elvis’ best movie.

King Creole Poster 1



© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis Movie Madness — The Plot Thickens

Elvis Movie Madnesss Logo

Voting has now narrowed the field to eight choices in Graceland’s promotion to determine the fans’ favorite Elvis movie. It’s a fairly predictable group, containing two serious dramatic films, four comedies, one concert film, and one semi-autobiographical movie. Here is the Elvis Elite Eight.


Loving You:

Loving You Poster

Loving You, Elvis’ second film, contains elements that parallel his own career. The selection of songs is great, and if you are fans of Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and Bill Black, you will enjoy their considerable presence in this film. Loving You had to knock off Follow That Dream and Love Me Tender to make the final eight, probably the toughest challenges any of the finalists had to face.


King Creole:

King Creole Poster

While King Creole contained many wonderful songs, without question it presented Elvis’ most serious dramatic role. Most fans lament he was not given the chance to really develop his acting talent later in his career, so this movie is very unique and special in their hearts. This could be seen in the voting, where King Creole clobbered Double Trouble 86% to 14% and Kid Galahad 81% to 19%. Two slam dunks.


G.I. Blues:

GI Blues Poster

Elvis’ first movie after he returned from Army service in Germany, G.I. Blues has plenty of songs, not much plot, and a nice love story. It also swamped the competition so far, beating Kissin’ Cousins 83% to 17% and It Happened at the World’s Fair 74% to 26%. The next round is against Viva Las Vegas. Good Luck.


Viva Las Vegas:

Viva Las Vegas Poster

There was never any question Viva Las Vegas would make it to the Elite Eight, and we can reasonably expect it to go even higher. It has been the second most dominating winner so far, clobbering both Spinout and Tickle Me by 88% to 12%.


 Jailhouse Rock:

Jailhouse Rock Poster

Who doesn’t like Jailhouse Rock? You knew from the beginning that it would go far in the voting. Of course, it didn’t have tough competition so far, beating The Trouble with Girls 87% to 13% and Girls, Girls, Girls 92% to 18%. If Jailhouse Rock survives the next round, it will have the honor of knocking off all three of Elvis’ movies with Girl in the title.


 Girl Happy:

Girl Happy Poster

 This might be the surprise entry in the final eight, and it survived the closest contest of any winner in the first two rounds. Girl Happy barely nudged past Roustabout 51% to 49%, after having no trouble with Live A Little, Love A Little 70% to 30% in the first round. It was Elvis’ seventeenth film. None of the fourteen films made after Girl Happy in 1965 ranked in the top eight. No surprise there.


Blue Hawaii:

Blue Hawaii Poster

Blue Hawaii has been the powerhouse champion of the first two rounds, starting with a 91% to 9% embarrassment over Paradise Hawaiian Style, then drubbing Fun in Acapulco 88% to 12%. From the start, the odds were great that Blue Hawaii would go far. It’s unfortunate that it now has to go against a non-acting movie, because the criteria would seem to very different.


Elvis — That’s The Way It Is:

Elvis - That's the Way It Is

This is certainly a fine movie, capturing Elvis in top form while rehearsing and performing at the Las Vegas International Hotel in 1970. It had little trouble in overcoming Charro 77% to 23% and Change of Habit 72% to 28%.


A Contrarian Point of View:

I understand why EPE added Elvis — That’s the Way It Is to the ballot. They needed one more film added to Elvis’ thirty-one acting movies to make the brackets work out. However, I would like to consider what movie would replace it if we want a top eight list of just Elvis’ acting movies.

Follow That Dream

My pick for the top eight would be Follow That Dream. It had the misfortune to be paired against Loving You in the first round, and barely lost 53% to 47%. Follow That Dream is a little weak on good songs, but it’s funny, Elvis’ acting as the family’s lawyer in the courtroom may be his finest acting scene ever, and the sweet love scene at the end with Anne Helm is just perfect. Among Elvis movies, I think Follow That Dream is an underappreciated gem.


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Conan O’Brien Sings Elvis

Two weeks ago we learned that Conan O’Brien is a huge Elvis fan.  Because of his fame and media presence, Conan has been able to manifest this more than the average fan. In his interview with Peter Guralnick, he stated:

“[In] 1983, I listened for the first time to the Sun Sessions, Elvis’ earliest work that he did with Sam Phillips.  It blew my mind.  It was like a drug.  I couldn’t get enough.  It made me go out and buy a guitar.  It made me try and play that music.”

Conan 7


Now, thirty years later, we know Conan was successful in his effort to play Elvis music.  Thanks to Google and YouTube, there are examples of Conan performing three Elvis original hits and two of his famous cover songs from albums or live shows.

When Conan left the Tonight Show in 2010 after NBC’s sorry late-night scheduling snafu, he was contractually prohibited from other TV work for six months.  He had often spoken of his fantasy to be a traveling rock musician, and he decided this would be the perfect time to do it.  With the remnants of the Tonight Show Band, re-christened The Legal Prohibited Band, backing him up, Conan created a comedy/music variety show and took it on the road.

Conan Tour Poster


Most of the songs he sang were from the genre he had loved for thirty years – Rockabilly.  However, each song was retooled with humorous lyrics reflecting Conan’s own life story.  “Polk Salad Annie” is a great example. You remember the spoken part in the beginning where Elvis explains what polk salad is and tells about a poor girl down South who cooked it all the time because they were so poor and had nothing else to eat.  Conan changed the story to being upper-middle class in Brookline, Massachusetts and goes on with some really funny stuff.

On June 10, 2010, his concert was recorded for a vinyl album.  No CD – Conan played homage to a music format of the past, just as he did with his choice of songs.

Conan Album - Side One


In addition to “Polk Salad Annie,” you will note two other Elvis songs on Side One of the album: “Blue Moon of Kentucky” from Elvis’ Sun Records days, and “Too Much Monkey Business” from the Guitar Man album.

To hear Conan sing “Polk Salad Annie,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Too Much Monkey Business” click here.

In his introduction, Conan knowingly gave due credit to Chuck Berry who wrote and originally recorded the song.


Conan Album - Side Two

Side 2 opens with another Elvis classic, “King Creole.”

To hear Conan sing “King Creole,” click here.

I looked up some of the other songs. “Twenty Flight Rock” was a song Eddy Cochran sang in the 1956 movie, The Girl Can’t Help It.  Another example of Conan’s deep involvement in Rockabilly music.

Conan and the Legally Prohibited Band


All of the links above take you to YouTube, but the videos are just a static pictures of the album labels.  We can hear but not see the performances. I guess they recorded the show, but didn’t film it.  Too bad.

However, there is one Elvis song that Conan preformed that was captured on film. On April 30 of this year, Conan and the band did “Hardheaded Woman” on his TV show.

Hard Headed Woman


Conan gave a wild and exuberant performance. He even did a move that would have made Elvis proud. While still playing guitar, Conan danced around behind the mic stand.

Hard Headed Woman 2


If you would like to see Conan sing “Hardheaded Woman,” click here.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Conan O’Brien’s tribute to Elvis.  Don’t be surprised if he shows up wearing a jumpsuit one of these days and sings more Elvis hits.  I can’t wait.

Conan 8

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


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Random Thoughts on Encore’s Elvis Movies — Part 2

Did you enjoy Jailhouse Rock on Encore last night as much as I did?  It was the fourth in a series called The Elvis Collection that gives us a commercial-free Elvis movie every night in May.

As I said in the last post, the plots are so well know after repeated viewings, that I try to find other things to look for to keep it interesting.  So, I was happy to find a new one in Jailhouse Rock.  It occurs after Elvis’ character Vince Everett signs a movie contract, and the scene is a celebratory party.  There is a large man dancing with surprisingly nimble feet.  It was Lamar Fike.

Lamar Fike Dancing in Jailhouse Rock

I knew Lamar travelled to Hollywood when he heard Elvis had swallowed a crown and was in the hospital.  After it was extracted and Elvis recovered, Lamar stayed on with the rest of Elvis’ buddies already in town.

Lamar and Elvis at RCA studios in LA

Elvis liked to get small movie cameos for his buddies, and Lamar is among the background people in several other scenes, in addition to his dancing at the party.


Sunday, May 5 – King Creole:

DVD Cover


Okay, I’ve got to watch this one because it is unquestionably Elvis’ finest acting role.  It’s not my favorite – a little too dark and violent – but I appreciate what Elvis accomplished.

It’s just too bad that Col. Parker and the producers never again gave Elvis a story of equal weight or a supporting cast of such talent.  In addition to Walter Matthau, Dean Jagger, Delores Hart, and Vick Morrow, King Creole featured Carolyn Jones as Ronnie, the damaged-goods, kept woman of Maxie Fields, the hood nightclub owner played by Matthau.

Danny and Ronnie

Carolyn Jones plays the most sultry love interest in any Elvis movie, and she is the highlight of King Creole in my opinion.  Every scene between her and Elvis bristles with tension and smoldering desire.

Carolyn Jones  - King Creole

If there is a hotter scene than this in any other Elvis movie, I sure missed it.

There is one other female character in King Creole I like to watch.  I called her the banana woman until I checked out the credits and her character’s name is Forty Nina.  She was the stripper who headlined at the King Creole club before Elvis took over.  Check out her outfit on the DVD cover above.

Publlicity Still

Considering that Forty Nina is only a bit character, she gets equal billing on this publicity photo.

AS I mentioned in the last post, I like to spot Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and Bill Black in the early Elvis movies.  They are in King Creole, but you could miss them if you don’t look closely.  They are part of a seven-man band that backs Elvis at the King Creole club.  The other four members are The Jordanaires.  In addition to singing, they play (pretend to play) standard Dixieland instruments.  That’s the late Gordon Stoker with the clarinet.


Elvis and Jordanaires singing New Orleans

Notice Scotty Moore is playing a banjo, not a guitar in this shot


In spite of all the intense action in the film, Elvis manages to sing some great songs on the King Creole club stage:  “Hard Headed Woman,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” and the title song.  However, my ears always perk up when he does the blues numbers “New Orleans,” and “Trouble,” his only song at Matthau’s Gilded Cage club.

If you would like to learn a whole bunch more about King Creole, I suggest you check out my friend Troy Yeary’s The Mystery train Elvis Blog.  Troy has proclaimed King Creole as the Movie of the Quarter, and has already done two posts on March 2  and  March 23.   And he promises more to come.


Monday, May 6 – Girls, Girls, Girls:

DVD Cover

I think I’ll skip this one.  I watched Girls, Girls, Girls again back in December while preparing for the 50th Anniversary Movie Pictorial article.

As I said, I consider this one a pretty lame Elvis movie.  In addition to a weak story, it has crummy songs, especially the two Elvis sang to the two little girls: “Earth Boy,” and “Dainty Little Moonbeams.”  Of course, every critic panning the songs from Elvis’ movies always includes “Song of the Shrimp” as a classic example.

If I was going to watch Girl, Girls, Girls, the one thing I would look for is the dance sequence between Elvis and Laurel Goodwin to the song “The Walls Have Ears.”

Dancing to The Walls Have Ears

This photo doesn’t show what’s interesting about the dance, but the 50th Anniversary pictorial does.


©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net


Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.